Is the National Reserve System in Danger?
Today's article by Colin Woodard in the Portland Press Herald has raised some concern about the possible plight of the Wells and Great Bay reserves. We appreciate your support and we promise to keep you informed about this developing story.
The release of the "budget memo" for NOAA from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is an expression of the Trump administration's spending priorities for the agency. We have not seen anything official, so all the information is based on the memo that the Washington Post obtained late last week.
The Post reported:
The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and "coastal resilience," which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas.
What Happens Next?
Sometime within the next week or two, the administration will release its official budget for all federal agencies, which will include funding levels for grants to institutions like ours. The memo from OMB and the proposed President's budget are the first steps in a long process to craft and adopt and eventually approve a federal budget. This involves the House and the Senate as well, as they will have their own versions of spending priorities. It's important to remember: This is all about the next federal fiscal year (FY18), which would not affect the National Estuarine Research Reserves until July 2018.
We know the NERR System, as well as the similarly threatened Sea Grant and Coastal Programs, have strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Many of our NERR colleagues have excellent relations with their elected representatives in both parties. In Maine, we have a great relationship with our Congressional delegation, which has been very supportive of our work.
What would be the ultimate effect of the OMB proposal as presented? It would be dramatic, for sure. But I am confident we will work through this.
Update March 17
The White House released its "budget blueprint" yesterday. While short on specifics, it appears to confirm the dire prospect of defunding the estuarine research reserves.